House Passes Bill To Allow Colleges To Teach Gaming Courses

Under a bill passed 73 to 43 by the Mississippi house Friday, state universities could teach courses in gaming management.

This legislation is nothing new. Since casinos came to Mississippi, many lawmakers have tried to pass a similar bill but it always dies in the Senate. So this year, lawmakers made some changes.

This house bill limits the universities to those only in gaming areas. That's a measure some House members hope will win over the Senate.

Rep. Earle Banks, D-Jackson, called the legislation an excellent bill for the people of Mississippi.

"We need Mississippians who are the base of this industry to be able to excel within the industry by having the proper education, background and training," Rep. Banks said.  "That's why we need to make sure Mississippians can compete on every aspect within the nation with citizens of other states who have other educational opportunities."

But not all house members are eager to see our universities offer the courses, instead suggesting private organizations could teach them instead. Rep. Warner McBride, D-Courtland, voted against the legislation. McBride said his constituents oppose gaming for philosophical reasons.

"A lot of people in the area where I live are opposed to gaming and maybe people don't have a good understanding or perception of the state allowing gaming courses to be taught at our public universities and schools," Rep. McBride said.

Other House members in favor of the legislation said the reality of it is, the casino industry is here and Mississippians should be educated in the field.

The courses could be in casino management, auditing and security; skills like card dealing could not be taught.

The Chairman of the Senate Universities committee said the changes are a step in the right direction but doesn't know if the bill will live or die in his committee.